I’m spending the day working at the 303 Cafe, around the corner from where I live.
The owner asked if I could help another customer with a Mac get her laptop connected to the wireless network here. (It’s all weird for Macs, apparently, and requires manually adding an IP address.)
This other customer is a Canadian journalist who’s in town visiting. She’s probably my dad’s age, and she seemed to have the same approximate reaction that my dad has to my instructions. I suggested she write down the IP on a Stickie, so when she came back, she would definitely have the IP. She hadn’t used Stickies before, so I showed her that.
We began having a conversation about how she feels that she doesn’t have time to sort through all the possible technologies available to her, partly because she’s busy working, but also because she’s older. (I think her work ethic is also from a generation that doesn’t routinely veer to YouTube at the office.)
She asked me some questions about LibraryThing, and telling her about that (she didn’t believe that that many people still read books) lead to questions about other technologies all the way to me opening up SecondLife for her to look at.
(It was like a bizarre version of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.)
By the time we were done, we had agreed that someone needs to start a website for people that separates the technological wheat from the chaff. Basically, I thought of it as a place where I’d write about technology that is either useful or likely to end up needing to know about, like I would explain it to my dad. There are lots of people (not only old people) who are capable of opening up a Word document, but are flabbergasted by the term RSS.
Now, I also assume that someone’s thought of this. I’ve already spent a good hour not working, and so I’ll leave it to someone else to discover it. (Or email me, and we can start a support site for old people.)
UPDATE! LibraryLaura totally had the answer: commoncraft. Laura says “he does videos on lots of different web 2.0 stuff ‘in plain english’ – they’re really cute and clever.”
Laura bonus: VoiceThread – ‘an online media album that can hold essentially any type of media (images, documents and videos) and allows people to make comments in 5 different ways – using voice (with a microphone or telephone), text, audio file, or video (with a webcam) – and share them with anyone they wish.’ (quote from the website)
Update II: Erin wrote in the comments: “have you seen Eons – the social networking site for seniors??